Supergrass, 'Diamond Hoo Ha' (Astralwerks)

6
Diamond Hoo Ha
Critical Mass
Label: astralwerks

by Lindsey Thomas

It's been 14 years since Supergrass first charmed fans of youthful indiscretion, and since then, they've shed much of the cheekiness that got them in and out of trouble. Much, but not all. Over the fuzzed-out guitar riffs of opener "Diamond Hoo Ha Man," Gaz Coombes pulls off suggestive lines about motel sex (not to mention that title) without the usual sleaze factor of alley-dwelling perverts or wannabes like Louis XIV.

Rebounding from the unusual melancholy of 2005's Road to Rouen, the new album finds the guys far more optimistic and returning to their glam-leaning ways. On "The Return of..." the band give shout-outs to the inspiration and serotonin that have reentered their lives, while the birdlike sax squawks hint that their new muse might be Roxy Music.

On "Ghost of a Friend," Coombes is driven to enlightenment by an angel, ascending electric-piano lines, and a heavenly choir of female backup singers; and the band raise a glass to outsiders with the piano-pounding "Rebel in You" ("You can't save the rebel in you / Hands down, you're beautiful").

All that carpe diem lyricism could come across as overplayed in lesser hands. And Diamond Hoo Ha has no goof-off tracks or silly voices to balance out the sentiment. But thanks to Supergrass' long-standing dedication to the well-placed smirk, they never succumb to sappiness.

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